The 10th annual Ucross Community Christmas Celebration will be held at 4 p.m. sharp on Saturday, December 17, at the Raymond Plank Center. The family-friendly festivities are open to all, with free tickets available at ucross.org or via Eventbrite.
The day’s festivities will also include a special event in the morning when Ucross will host the ribbon-cutting for the new Lauren Anderson Dance Studio and Koehler Performing Arts Center. The public is welcome to attend. Details will be available on Ucross’s website.
At the Christmas Celebration, following a decade of tradition, bestselling author and Ucross neighbor Craig Johnson will give a special reading of a new Christmas story featuring Walt Longmire.
In addition, the Buffalo High School Balladiers will sing Christmas carols, and Ucross will offer crafts for children and festive refreshments. The evening will culminate with cannon fire, fireworks and the lighting of Christmas trees in The Park at Ucross.
In the spirit of Christmas, Ucross invites guests to bring canned goods and non-perishable food items for families in need. After the event, Ucross staff will distribute the donated items to several local community food pantries.
“We look forward to enjoying our annual Christmas traditions with our friends and neighbors,” said Ucross President William Belcher. “And for a special addition for our 10th anniversary, we are thrilled to present an original piece by a Ucross alumna, Anne Guzzo.”
The celebration will feature “Two Pieces for Clarinet (2007),” composed by Anne Guzzo of Laramie, Wyoming, and performed by Stephanie Zelnickof Lawrence, Kansas. Guzzo, a former Ucross artist in residence, is an internationally performed and award-winning composer and a professor at the University of Wyoming. Zelnick, Guzzo’s longtime collaborator, is the principal clarinet of the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra and the professor of clarinet at the University of Kansas.
Guzzo composed “Two Pieces for Clarinet” for Zelnick during a series of winter storms and subsequent walks along the Laramie River.
“Before writing the piece, I’d had a number of conversations with Stephanie about the clarinet’s rich and often lonely quality,” Guzzo said. “We had also spoken of our shared love of the geography and nature of Wyoming, and the two ideas— a sense of place and solitude—inspired this movement.”
The second movement is a musical interpretation of the conversational style between Guzzo and Zelnick: “one that is fast-paced, going on tangents, returning to topic, serious, silly and thoroughly enjoyable,” Guzzo explained.
At the conclusion of the evening, a cannon will be fired by Ucross neighbor Joe Reed with Lauren Anderson, the former principal ballet dancer for the Houston Ballet and one of the Houston Ballet’s most beloved performers, to announce the start of a spectacular fireworks display by Bruce Burns and his expert crew. The festivities will be underscored by the lighting of the Christmas trees, which the Powder River Energy Corporation team will again volunteer to string with lights across The Park at Ucross.
The Raymond Plank Center is located at the intersection of Highways 14 and 16 East in Ucross. For further information and free tickets, visit ucross.org.